House Passes 3 Free Trade Agreements

Years after they were agreed to by the U.S. and their respective governments, the House of Representatives voted in a bipartisan fashion this evening to pass free trade agreements for Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

The first bill, for Colombia, passed 262-167. Thirty-one Democrats voted with 231 Republicans to pass the bill, while nine Republicans and 158 Democrats opposed the measure.

The second bill, for Panama, passed 300-129. Sixty-six Democrats voted with 234 Republicans to pass the bill, while six Republicans and 123 Democrats opposed the measure.

Finally, the third bill, for South Korea, passed 278-151. Fifty-nine Democrats voted with 219 Republicans to pass the bill, while 21 Republicans and 120 Democrats opposed the measure.

House Speaker John Boehner applauded the successful votes, thanking both President Obama and President Bush for working “in good faith to ensure they become law,” but he said their passage was long overdue.

“With passage in the House and Senate today, a key component of the Republican jobs plan will be sent to the president for his signature,” Boehner said. “These significant trade pacts will provide new opportunities for American small businesses, farmers and manufacturers to expand and hire more workers. And frankly, it shouldn’t have taken this long for it to happen.

“While a Democrat-controlled House sat idle, other nations expanded their trading ties and American competitiveness suffered,” he said. “These common-sense agreements reverse that trend, level the playing field, and provide American job creators access to new customers and markets to sell their products.”

Boehner said that while the FTAs equate to new jobs for Americans, “more work must be done to achieve the level of private-sector job growth America needs,” adding that the bills “represent the type of permanent reform that must be our focus.”

“Americans are struggling with the results of a failed, short-sighted ‘stimulus’ approach. To encourage robust and lasting private-sector job growth we must listen to job creators and break down the government barriers that discourage investment in America,” he said. “These job-creating bills show that, despite our differences, there is meaningful common ground among the two parties in Washington. To put Americans back to work we must continue seeking out those areas in which we agree, rather than picking fights over those where we don’t.”

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